BarbieOS: ‘It’s a joke, son’


Author: Robin 'Roblimo' Miller

That’s what our favorite role model, Foghorn Leghorn, would say about BarbieOS, a new,
fictional Linux distribution that is getting news play everywhere from here to Nepal. Some news outlets are treating this as the joke it obviously is, while others are playing it straight, causing many “Is this for real?” posts on Linux-oriented email lists. Take it from us: it’s not real. And it’s far from the first cool Linux distro gag that has been foisted on an unwary world.Back in 1999 we ran across something called Jesux that was written by none other than Chris ‘pudge’ Nandor, who is now an OSDN employee — and one of the coders who works on NewsForge (and Slashdot and our other sites).

The funny thing about Jesux was that the original idea wasn’t for a pseudo-religious Linux disribution but for a “Chick Linux” thing, and it wasn’t pudge’s idea but originated with a post from a joke-loving Australian woman named Kirrily Robert (AKA Skud) in a #perl IRC channel, and pudge implemented it, except as Jesux rather than as a Linux-for-Chicks thing because, he says, “I am a Christian, not a girl. It is much easier to be funny/smart with something you are familiar with.”

When we rounded him up on IRC, pudge had not heard of BarbieOS. “I’ve done very little reading this week,” he said.

His first question, after looking at the page: “Is it real?”

Then pudge, being astute, realized it was published by a satire site (and quite a good one). So we asked pudge, “Does it bother you that Barbie Linux is getting more attention than Jesux? Does this mean Barbie is more popular than Jesus or just that more people are paying attention to Linux now?”

He says, “Barbie Linux got more attention because it looked more professional!”

But, pudge points out, while Barbie Linux has no downloads, “Jesux had downloads! Still does, actually.” He pointed us to this g-zipped file

Jesux also has its own Christian Software Public License, while we don’t see a Barbie Public License anywhere.

Remember, though, there have been actual Barbie PCs sold (and later withdrawn from the market).

Slashdot editor Timothy Lord thinks perhaps Barbie-maker Mattel ought to take the BarbieOS idea and run with it. He says, “A stripped-down, girl-centric Knoppix (for instance) would not be a terrible idea on their part.”

Slashdot debunked Jesux while other media took it seriously — on pages that now seem to have been removed from their sites, but could probably be found through the Internet Archive if you want to put in the time to locate them.

We here at NewsForge obviously appreciate a good joke. And we’d like to remind you that a healthy sense of humor is an essential part of the Linux mindset. Never forget: the title of Linus Torvalds’ autobiography is Just for Fun.

So kudos to the creators of the BarbieOS page — and to pudge and Skud and Linus and everyone else who takes time to give us a little laughter in between worrying about our jobs, our families, and the frustration of getting a Linux distribution I’m testing to detect the parallel port in an ACPI-dependent laptop. (Sigh)


  • Humor